6 Ways Your Ego Ruins Your Leadership: 6 Ways to Fix It

6 Ways Your Ego Ruins Your Leadership: 6 Ways to Fix It 150 150 Jennifer Ledet

Whether you are a leader, a senior-level executive, the newest intern at the firm, or if you’re breathing, chances are, you are self-oriented. If you think you’re not self-oriented, think about the last time you saw a picture that was taken of you with a group of friends  – whose face did you look for first? Yup. Thought so. Me too.

Many leaders would prefer to think that they have their ego in check. The reality is that as a human being you are focused on yourself.

A certain degree of ego is natural. Although when it comes to leadership, it is crucial that you keep your ego in check. I’m referring to ego here as an arrogance or cockiness that will get in the way of real growth or sustained success. A jacked up ego is a collaboration killer. Oh, and you can kiss creativity buh-bye.

The most successful leaders strike a balance of confidence and humility. Trying to tell someone that they need to let the air out of their ego balloon is about as easy as taking the King Cake away from a 5-year old (call me if you need details about this delicacy). Those people usually need to experience their own “comeuppance.” In other words, they need to experience some spectacular crash and burn. The more embarrassing, the more likely they are to get the message.

Rather than having to go through such a humiliating experience, and if you’re not sure where you rate on the ego scale, read the following indicators and honestly assess whether they describe you.

6 Ego Indicators

  1. You get the last word.
  2. You want to win and you look at most interactions as a competition.
  3. You are the team problem solver and everyone comes to you to fix their work-related dilemmas.
  4. Whatever you say goes.
  5. You get involved with every issue – large and small.
  6. You feel like you have learned all that you need to know.

If you are humble and self-aware enough to recognize that some of these statements describe you, here are some ways you can rein in your ego and keep it in check.

6 Ways to Rein in Your Ego

1. Back off.

You are in a leadership position because you have skills, talents, abilities that are needed and that no one else brings to the team. Get out of the way and let your employee do his job. Better yet, trust him to do his job, which will free you up to do your job.

2. Choose your sidekicks carefully.

Kids are brutally honest. My great-niece Lucy told me, (quite loudly I might add) “You have pink teeth!” Sure enough, I took a peek in my compact mirror and discovered that I had lipstick on my teeth. You don’t want to surround yourself with bobble head dolls/dashboard dogs who will nod in agreement at everything you say. I think we all need a Lucy at our elbow. Someone who will honestly tell you when you’re doing a “craptacular” job, when your level of suckage is high, or even when you have toilet paper stuck to your shoe. You need someone who will dare to disagree with you.

3. Ask for feedback and input. 

Ask your team questions like, “From your perspective what should I be doing more of? Less of?” And “How do you think we should handle this situation?” By asking these questions and others like them you are not only gaining critical information that will help you to become a more effective leader, but you’re also sending the message to your team member that you value her and that her opinion is important to you.

4. Strive for collaboration over competition.

I’ve been hired to work with many leadership teams because they are functioning like a group of competitors instead of teammates. Set mutually agreed upon goals with your team and then together determine the actions necessary to accomplish those goals. There will be times when each individual will be called upon to sacrifice something for the greater good of the whole team. If a team member is successful, the whole team – and organization – wins.

5. Lead with your ears.

Listening is one of the most important skills you can develop as a leader. And most of us have lots o’room for improvement in this department.

6. Adopt a beginner’s mindset.

In the bayous of Louisiana you may hear someone call a person a tete dur. A tete dur, which translates literally to “hard head” is someone who just won’t listen, whose mind has been made up, or who thinks he knows better. Zen practice states that, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” When you think you have learned all that you need to know, you essentially shut down the conversation, the creativity, and the possibilities. Instead, be curious about someone’s “crazy” idea, be open to learning new things, and admit that you may not have all of the answers.

One of my favorite sayings is, “Nothing fails like success.” This is especially true when your ego turns into arrogance and cockiness and takes hold of your team members and ultimately your business. Instead of being tempted to send this to your boss, or a team member who gets under your skin, be humble and self-aware enough to analyze how you may identify with one of these signals. Then, use these strategies to rein in your ego.


  • Did any of the ego descriptions paint a picture of you?
  • How can you improve a relationship with a team member, a client, or a colleague that may have been affected by your ego? 

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Jennifer Ledet, CSP, is a leadership consultant and professional speaker (with a hint of Cajun flavor) who equips leaders from the boardroom to the mailroom to improve employee engagement, teamwork, and communication.  In her customized programs, leadership retreats, keynote presentations, and breakout sessions, she cuts through the BS and talks through the tough stuff to solve your people problems.